Nuggets/Jazz Game 4 Recap
Carmelo Anthony’s late surge not enough to win in Utah.
by Sulaiman Folarin
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The Denver Nuggets knew they had to win a game in Utah, it was either Game 4 or the series was over because of how tough it is to win three straight games.
So when Carmelo Anthony made a push for Denver in the fourth quarter in what looked like a comeback, Utah’s Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer were not having it at all.
Boozer had a team-high 31 points and 13 rebounds as the Jazz beat the Nuggets 117-106 to take a commanding 3-1 lead in their Western Conference Playoff series.
The Nuggets started off the game with a good lead and with Anthony playing aggressive basketball, grabbing rebounds off his miss and was visible on the offensive boards as well. Though Anthony finished with a game-high 39 points and 11 rebounds [six were offensive boards], he also finished with 9 turnovers [also a game-high].
Unfortunately though, Anthony was the only one scoring for Denver.
By half time, the Nuggets were only shooting 37 percent compared to Utah’s 56. Another reason was that the Nuggets were barely passing the ball and making plays. They either reduced themselves to a one-on-one team trying to beat players with their individual skills rather than passing or took ill-advised shots.
In coach Adrian Dantley’s defense, this is how Denver has played all season long even under head coach George Karl so nothing changed in the way they executed offensively or defensively on Sunday or throughout the series. It was also bad to watch as Denver came down the floor, passed to Anthony and everyone stood around looking for him to make a shot. The team barely set screens and did not make any cuts.
For the Jazz, that was a totally different ball game. If there was one thing Utah did great in Game 4, it was passing the ball as they finished with 24 assists compared to Denver’s 13.
Led by Williams who had 13 assists, Utah passed the ball a lot and shared love as was evident on the stats sheet when complimentary layers like C.J. Miles (21), Wesley Matthews (18) and Paul Millsap (12) finished the game with double digit point total.
The Nuggets at a point only had two starters in double digit scoring; Anthony and Chauncey Billups as other members crawled their way to decent scoring by the end of the game.
The Jazz went on a great run finishing the third quarter by outscoring the Nuggets 32-23. Boozer was a key factor as he finished on a three-point play to give Utah a 13-3 run that helped finish the quarter.
By the end of the third, the Nuggets looked dead and buried, but once again Anthony, who carried the load in the first half was, in the words of Boozer, “cooking” in the fourth.
Anthony scored 12 of his game-high 39 points in the fourth quarter to cut a 19 point Jazz lead down to single digit, but once again there was no help from other Nuggets as Billups fouled out of the game with 3:46 left and with the Nuggets down by nine points.
Also in the fourth the Jazz were relentless knowing the Nuggets would make a run, but still making their plays. Boozer had some crucial buckets. One was a jumper over a falling Kenyon Martin late in the game, but before that, with 10:43 left in the fourth, he had a spin move to the basket and a thunderous dunk on a trailing and inefficient Nene.
Even when the Nuggets were making their run courtesy of Anthony, the Jazz still double teamed, but his Nuggets team mates were either too unassertive to get open for their own shots or they had a poor shooting night like guards JR Smith and Arron Afflalo.
Though Denver buckled down on defense in the fourth, their overall defense in the game was also non-existence at times. Smith a culprit on some key Utah possessions as Denver allowed the Jazz to walk the ball right into the basket.
The series moves back to Denver, a place Utah has already stolen a game from the Nuggets. Hopefully they can address their issues before Wednesday or they can go fishing with the TNT crew led by Kenny Smith.